The Star Army
Main Article: Star Army of Yamatai
Main Article: Star Army of Yamatai
The First Officer position is typically given to a plot's most responsible and best performing player (provided his character's rank is sufficient)…a player who has proven himself as reliable and talented. In this position, players typically begin taking on some responsibilities as a Game Master such as describing the setting, management of the plot wiki, and helping with the Roleplay Reviews, and eventually players go on to become GMs of their own plot when the original plot takes on enough players to split into two.
This manual is available as both a download, and in hard copy form. The cover depicts a soldier looking out from inside a ship into a field of space, with a large fleet of ships in the background orbiting a blue, lush planet. The title and author's name are both included near the bottom, and the spine of the book. In electronic versions, the image is available at the beginning of the transmission.
Being the First Officer under any command demands a special breed of leadership for anyone aspiring for this linchpin of the modern starship. Through wartime, peace, and trade an Executive Officer (which will from now on be referred to by what you will hear on a ship as the “XO”) is vital to everyday operations on board a ship, and the well being of the crew down through all sections.
While you may come from a different planet, different life, and different background than the soldiers below you, or the captain above you the ship is your home. Remember the words in this book, or even learn one thing you didn’t know before and you can come away a more effective part of the crew, and the right hand of the vessel’s commanding officer. Much of this manual will pertain to the XO on some sort of warship, but keep in mind it’s easy to take lessons away from these even if you’re the First Officer of a regional ferry vessel, or a touring ship for dinner cruises.
Fighting many, many battles has taught me the inner workings of being the top soldier on board, and the great responsibility it commands from you as a person, regardless of background. Your captain, and your crew are counting on you.
It’s my hope that you can take something from this no matter what size starship you’ll be serving on, or for the future XO what you are familiar with. From a gunship, junk hauler, or the largest flagship of the Yamatai Star Empire, welcome aboard, XO. It’s time to get to work.
From the smallest scout vessel, any ship with a crew big enough to need an XO is going to need your watchful eye. Keep in mind some simple rules when familiarizing yourself with the vessel, and the working space:
Note: If you’re a species that can download information, such as a Nekovalkyrja make sure to do so, but this does not exempt you from the above rule.
These important rules will make sure you are always aware of your surroundings inside the ship, and are ready to take charge when needed to support your commanding officer. Whenever you dock, or make contact with command make certain to check for any updates concerning the class and refit style of your ship, and any warnings added to the schematics or operating status to keep abreast of current upgrades you might need to commit to, or be able to discuss with the CO.
The CO of any vessel is known as a Captain. Always remember that, because no one else will forget. Your job is to always make sure this person is aware of what's going on inside the ship. Often they have the burden of setting the mission, the goals, and the general orders for the ship. It is important that she be kept abreast of current issues, by priority of what is most important to the mission of the ship. Hopefully, in time this person will become the closest friend you have, as you learn more about each other.
These are a few questions to get you in the right frame of mind:
By connecting with the captain of your vessel, you can learn all of these things and more. In the end, they will be the person reviewing you, and mentoring you in the finer points of their experiences, and the more closely you work together as a team, the more happy all parts of the ship are. Your job is making sure everyone can do theirs, including her. Never, ever contradict her openly if you can help it, conversations concerning a problem should be held in private whenever possible or efficient. They will set the mission, so be prepared to instruct members of the crew on the specifics if approached, or fill your role in it by giving proper orders.
Even on vessels with many sprites or other forms of assistance, the crew is the lifeblood of the entire ship. They’ll look to you as the go between to the captain at times, and maintaining the chain of command will be important. Again, here are some simple rules to remember to help guide you into commanding them during any kind of mission, or operation.
Know them: On larger ships, a First Officer must be aware of the names, and some other aspects of the lives of officers under them. In smaller ships, you should know what their names are, and enough about their abilities to delegate effectively. On the larger ships, the officers under you in the chain of command can empower the people below them, if given the opportunity. Visit where they work, learn something from them, or talk to them during off time.
Trust them: Know when to delegate. It’s hard to be the best at everything, but if you make the effort you can learn enough about every major job on the ship to have useful suggestions for the captain.
Be Their Liaison: Always try to find time to talk to someone who is having a problem, most importantly your officers. Often solving personal issues can alleviate some of the stress your CO is already under, or help you to advise her on the situation.
Essentially, knowing the crew in all manifestations helps you to understand your place above them, and below the captain. Whenever possible, advise them on career options as they rise through the rank, or when they need constant reprimand. You may be put to the task of punishing crew.
When on the bridge, always be ready to replace someone who could be incapacitated during combat. When in major operations support the captain by maintaining an effective chain of command. Those of you on smaller ships won’t have a lot to manage, but may be sent off to fight in any major operation that’s underway.
If you’re an XO on a command vessel, you might have an officer that oversees a few vessels, up to an entire fleet. You have to rise up to that expectation. If you are on a major flagship, it might be your job to oversee the entire vessel during operations while your CO is commanding your group, and the Taisho is busy on the fleet deck. In smaller applications, managing groups of starships can fall under your place too. Be ready for it.
Being able to rise to the challenge is important, so always be prepared for this as a combat officer, or a peacetime one.
“They might hate you for it at first, but if the training seems real enough to make someone on your crew need a drink after, it’s come close enough to reality to be effective.” – Shimizu Akina
During any normal duty shift, you can expect to take part in training on board your vessel. As the XO, you may be the one responsible for this. Let’s take a look at some of the types of training you might need to institute, or support aboard a ship.
Something has happened aboard the ship, time how long it takes people to get to their station no matter the hour. This is useful for both combat and non-standard emergencies. Make sure that their response time is appropriate, but announce it as a drill.
On a warship, this can take the form of all the different sorts of training listed here. In short, it’s to keep everyone sharp at their jobs so when the time comes, they can be the best fighting force possible. There might be a fleet battle, or you could be boarded, everyone needs to do the right thing at that moment to ensure their survival.
Note: Feel free to use any of your ships projectors to simulate real battle conditions whenever possible. Sometimes they might not even know it’s a drill, and that can be the most valuable experience of all when controlled effectively under the CO’s supervision.
Revisit what all members of the crew should know how to do. Use a power armor, fight hand to hand, or marksmanship to name a few. This can always extend to non-combative skill sets depending on the ship.
Everyone on your crew needs to know how to do this in some way, shape or form. Everyone probably does, but occasional hands on training can help augment this vital skill that typically requires a large amount of teamwork.
Learn something new from a willing member of the crew you didn’t know before, and encourage those who have the time to pursue it in their private time as well. This increases morale, and may help the ship someday as well as giving the person learning something another notch in their career.
There are several routes to becoming an XO, but in the Star Army of Yamatai the practice is often started when a junior officer (typically bridge operations) makes progress in leadership during active missions, or an intensive training program. To serve on larger ships, and with squadron, or fleet level officers typically you will need to hold the rank of Shosa or above, assuming that your commanding officer is at least a Chusa, if not higher depending on their command.
In short, be good at what you do, and strive to be an exemplary solider. The rest of you should do your best to show your value in that position, and that whatever organization you belong to that you would be an asset in command. That is all part of the job.
Only do this if you can accept being made a captain someday. If you perform your job as XO to satisfaction, chances are it will happen. The captain knows this, and will remind you of it as your career progresses.
At any time you may be asked to fill a fighting role a SAoY ship such as a power armor sortie, or anything the CO needs you to do, flexibility is important, you must be the officer to turn to. Never forget that you can be called to supplement any part of the crew at a moment’s notice. The key to this position is flexibility, and leadership.
When taking the reins of this position remember the great responsibility you have to always do your best so the captain and her mission, everyone's mission can succeed. However small, or great the breadth of your command is, you will are ready to adapt to what the vast darkness gives birth to.